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mental suffering or distress.

"I feel as if we are going in circles, Miss Rodata." Ezekiel was standing in the corner of the cell, pen in hand, dull suit as ironed and proper as always. "I'm starting to think that you believe we don't have your best interests at heart. Perhaps I've been going about this the wrong way?" He tapped the pen against his mouth. "Yes, I suspect that is it. Silly me. I imagine I've given you quite the wrong end of the stick. That's the only explanation for how little progress we've made in the last two weeks."

Holding on to details felt important. In this grey room there was nothing else to fix on. I could feel my brain starting to slide, as there was so little friction in my sensory input. "You said this morning that I've been here six days."

Ezekiel gasped and tilted his head up towards the ceiling. "Did I? Did I really?" He moved back to the table and stood next to his chair. "Yes, I think I might have. You may indeed be correct, there, Miss Rodata. How very amiss of me." He pulled the chair out with a long, aching scrape and sat down slowly. "Sometimes," he continued, "I feel like I could forget my head."

"I know what you're doing," I said. I didn't know, not really.

"Yes? And what is that?"

"You're trying to disorient me. So that I break more easily."

"I see. And how is that working out? Are you feeling at all - what did you call it? Disoriented?"

I stared back at him. There didn't seem to be any point bothering to converse with the guy. He came in every day and asked the same questions, sometimes with a slight twist. The questions rarely had anything to do with, well, anything.

"What did you think of the Red Fox's win?" That was the kind of weird question he occasionally came out with.

"I don't know what that is."

He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms in mock surprise. "I find that most unlikely," he said. "Everybody is talking about it. Game of the century, they say."

"I've not been keeping up with my sport."

"What would you say if I admitted you'd been here for seven years?"

I blinked. "I'd say you're full of shit."

"We've been caring for you for a long while, Miss Rodata," he continued. "Your delusions were considered dangerous for society and yourself."

"My delusions, yeah?"

"Paranoid conspiracies. Invented personalities. Extreme anti-social behaviour. An inability to empathise or see others' point of view."

"I'd know if I'd been here for seven years."

He opened his notepad and took the lid off his pen. "Very well, then," he said. "How long do you believe you have been here?"

I wasn't sure. There were no windows. The lighting was always the same: that fluorescent, unnatural glare. I had no idea whether it was morning or night outside. Keeping track of hours was impossible, let alone days.

"No matter," Ezekiel said gently. "I don't want to unduly worry you." He leaned forward. "However, I should say, off the record, that my superiors are less patient than me. They're the sort of people who expect results. They have targets to meet. League tables to climb. You know the sort. Anyway, my point is that there are rumblings upstairs that they might bring someone else in."

He started packing his papers away. "I would recommend, Miss Rodata, that you cooperate more fully with me. I'm your last, best hope in this place. Any alternatives will be worse."

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